Character

Home in Phoenix's Willo DistrictLast night, my fiancé and I were driving around downtown Phoenix, late for a friend’s birthday dinner. We missed the restaurant and ended up circling through one of the historic downtown neighborhoods to find it.

I have long been in love with Phoenix’s historic neighborhoods, while my fiancé loves our Scottsdale neighborhood and has been adamant that our first home would be nearby. Recently, I’ve noticed some chinks in the armor, so I thought I’d take the chance last night to show him how gorgeous the downtown homes can be.

We drove slowly down the residential street, me pointing out what homes I thought were beautiful and him (finally) acknowledging that they were pretty cool.

Me: “I love these homes. Look at the front porches!”

Him: “Yeah. And some of them have nice courtyards on the side.”

Me: “Yeah! They all have… character.”

Him: “Yeah.”

(pause while I replayed the previous 15 seconds and clips from HGTV)

Me: “Did I just say a house has character?”

Him: “Yeah. You officially crossed the line into being an adult.”

Me: “Weird.”

Two minutes later we found the swanky wine bar. Ten of us sat around, drank too many sangrias, and played dirty Would You Rather, courtesy of someone’s iPhone. If this is being an adult, I’m ok with it.

 

Photo credit: Brandon Hunt

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Wedding Dresses and Second Graders

I hated Halloween as a kid.

It meant putting on uncomfortable costumes, wearing makeup, and talking to strangers. It was awfully painful for a shy kid whose ideal day was spent hiding in a corner, reading a book. My mom still tells the story of coming home from work during her 15-minute break to get us ready for Halloween, struggling to do my makeup as I argued and cried.

I still hate being the center of attention. But as I found out last week, that seems to be the point of shopping for a wedding dress.

Must there be so many mirrors? What is with the mini pedestal that they have you stand on? You’re standing on a raised platform as it is – the whole dressing room is up there. It’s so awkward when you walk out of a dressing room and see several people’s reactions before you’ve even seen your own reflection. I once again felt like the kid who just wanted to put on oversized clothes and blend into the wall.

“It’s too tight. I’m not comfortable!” That could’ve been me in second grade, hating my costume. But it was me at 28, wriggling in the corset the sales consultant suggested I wear. It ended up on the floor rather than on me. Then came the dresses.

First was a beautiful lace dress, lightly beaded to add a touch of sparkle to the vintage-style gown. I loved how it looked but not that it made my arms itch. I tried to reason with myself that I could tolerate it for an evening. Still, I heard a younger, whinier version of myself: “But Mommy… it’s ITCHY. Do I hafta wear it?”  It made it to the top three, but the itch factor got it voted off the island.

Then there was the dress with the large skirt, stiff crinoline beneath to make it poof. It reminded me of running through the woods as a kid, sticks and bushes scratching my bare shins. The sales consultant said, “You look so uncomfortable.” I was, I told her – both from the crinoline and how much attention I feared the large skirt would draw.

And then an elegant satin gown – a little light beading at the waist but otherwise very simple. I thought it was gorgeous. My mother thought it was boring. “It’s not fancy enough for a wedding.” So? I didn’t want anything flashier – nothing that would attract too much attention. “Sonia, it’s your wedding day. Of course people are going to look at you!”

And suddenly I’m 7, just wanting to get my candy and go home…

The next morning, I told my fiancé how strange it was that shopping for a wedding dress made me feel like such a child. He laughed, probably from imagining what a sight it was to see a grown woman reenacting childhood fussiness. My poor mother probably thought she was long past the days of having to coax her child into wearing something suitable for the occasion. She probably hasn’t dealt with this in at least 15 years. And yet there she was, responding to her oldest child’s vetoes with “Just try it, Sonia. You might like it.” She said it wearily, as if she’s said it a thousand times before. Which, of course, she has.

That evening, when I checked the mail after work, I got my latest Netflix DVD. It was “The Little Mermaid.”

And suddenly I’m 7, excited to watch a princess movie and sing along. Just as long as no one’s listening.
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Photo credit: Patrishe